A Washington cop received a call about a drunk man sitting in his jeep in a movie parking lot, only to discover that he was a local deputy, so she offered him a ride home, which he refused.
Poulsbo police officer Danielle Branes then left, telling theater employees to keep an eye on him in case he decided to drive.
Almost two hours later, Kitsap County Sheriff Sergeant Jim Porter drove home anyway, a five-mile drive, but then was unable to step out of his jeep.
Having already been alerted that Porter was drink and had driven home, another Poulsbo pulled up to his home and found the sergeant covered in vomit, slurring his words, reeking of alcohol and clinging to his keys.
But Poulsbo police officer Jennifer Corn wrote that there was “no probable cause” to arrest Porter, a man she admitted to knowing for 18 years.
Corn also happens to be married to a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy and once worked as a reserve deputy for the agency.
The incident took place on October 16, but body cam footage of both Poulsbo police officers is just surfacing now through a public records request made by the Kitsap Sun news site.
The video shows that the Poulsbo Police Department not only demonstrated favoritism towards Porter, which we’ve come to expect from law enforcement these days, but also placed innocent lives at risk by allowing him to drive home from the theater.
Just keep that in mind next time a cop tries to lecture you about “safety.”
Poulsbo police officer Branes has since resigned for “unrelated reasons.”
According to the Kitsap Sun:
In her body camera footage, which shows Porter in the Jeep, Branes says she can smell alcohol and later describes Porter as “totally wasted.” Branes told Porter he was not in trouble but admonished him not to drive and suggested he toss his keys in the back of the vehicle. She asked theater employees to call 911 if Porter drove away, according to her report, and then left.
At about 11:10 p.m., a theater employee called 911 to say the Jeep had left, and Corn wrote in her report that considering the level of intoxication — as reported by Branes — she was concerned and drove the route to the registered owner’s house off Clear Creek Road “to ensure he did not crash somewhere.” Porter lives about 5 miles from the theater, outside city limits.
When Corn arrived at Porter’s house, along with Reserve Officer Joshua Krebs, who was riding with her, she recognized an older model Sheriff’s Office car parked at his house, which is when Corn wrote that she realized it was Porter. Corn is married to a Kitsap sheriff’s deputy and is a former reserve deputy for the office.
“I just came to make sure you made it home, but seeing you in the vehicle I had to check on you,” Corn says in the video. “I’m wishing I hadn’t, but now I’m stuck.”
“You are not stuck,” Porter says to Corn.
“I am, because somebody saw you drive out of there,” Corn says.
Both Corn and Krebs wrote that Porter had apparently vomited on himself.
Porter was placed on administrative leave the following day and the evidence was reviewed by a city attorney, who declined to file charges, telling the Kitsap Sun that she did not believe an “objective and reasonable fact-finder would convict.”
But anybody can see the video and determine that not only was Porter dangerously drunk while operating a vehicle, the responding Poulsbo police officers did their best to cover it up by not asking him to do field sobriety tests, breathalyzers or blood tests.
At one point, Corn turns off her body camera to explain to Poulsbo Police Chief Al Townsend, who had arrived on the scene, what had taken place starting at the movie theater, which appears to be a violation of Poulsbo Police body camera policy, which requires officers to keep cameras turned on during investigations of citizens of suspected criminal activity.
When she turns it back on, she can be heard telling Porter, “I’m just going to be straight up with you because I respect you. Right now, we have the reasonable suspicion to detain you, but we don’t have, at this time, probable cause for your arrest.”
Last year, the Poulsbo Police Department announced it is considering dropping its body cam program because citizens were making too many public records requests for the videos.